Leaving Lyceum

With close ties to the family that owns and runs the school, as well as a parent who teaches there, I have been acquainted with Lyceum far longer than most of the students who walk its corridors. I have seen the various buildings it has occupied over the years, met with most of the teachers, and watched (almost) every play the students have put on in the past decade.

When I was little, my mother would sometimes pick me up from school and take me to Lyceum if she had unfinished business to complete, an exam to invigilate or a meeting to attend. Sometimes I would tag along when the second-year Biology students went to the beach for their class trip. It was there that I saw the genuine smiles on the students' faces, saw that happy they were and saw, also, the ties between then, bonds which were strong, permanent, palpable. It was there that I fell in love.

It was there that I sealed my fate and decided that Lyceum was for me. 

Two years ago, I walked through the doors of this school expectant. I was ready to make life-long friends, ready for adventure, ready to grow. I was ready for Lyceum. 

Or so I thought. 

In retrospect, I was not. Changes needed to be made.

I came to Lyceum slightly smug and quite self-assured. I had topped my class as far back as most people could remember. I had done so effortlessly. I had even been called by the Principal once and, in front of everyone, been declared an asset to the school. My old school. Lyceum, however, was much, much different. Humility was hammered into me as soon as I realized that almost everyone of my new classmates - every God damn one of them - had been just like me. Class toppers, chart toppers, my classes were all full of them. Suddenly I wasn't above standard. I was standard. 

I came to Lyceum with a habit of judging people. Sometimes I would come across a seemingly unremarkable person and instantly deem them unworthy of attending such an institution. You do not belong here, I would think. But then they would go ahead and do or say or write something - anything, a gesture here, a word there - that would blow my mind with its brilliance. I am ashamed to say that this happened many times before my habit deadened. 

I came to Lyceum without a clue of how true friendship worked. I expected people to just click and be friends. Forever. Initially, I had big doubts about the group of people I suddenly found myself with. I found it difficult and uncomfortable to be myself around them for some reason or the other. At times I even considered leaving them altogether and trying my luck elsewhere. But something made me stay. And I'm glad that it did. By the end of my first year, when I had begun to loosen up a little, I realized that I loved them dearly. All of them. It was through this experience that I learnt how to be proactive when it came to making friends and not wait around for it happening by chance. Even today, I surprise myself sometimes by how easily I have started to make friends. There are people out there who I've known for a painfully short time but feel like I have been with for years. 

Once I had been... altered, I became attuned to the magic of Lyceum. It was everywhere, in Bashir Bhai's greasy food, in the constricted corridors, on the benches, under the mooras, everywhere. 

I had what I had asked for, life-long friends (who are permitted to hunt me down and beat me up if I ever lose touch with them), adventures and growth.

I came to Lyceum one person. In less that forty-eight hours, I graduate. I am leaving Lyceum another person.

I am leaving Lyceum, but Lyceum will not leave me. 

6 comments:

Roshni said...

well done!

Richa said...

This post made me go all sad, damn, I get so attached to places that now even other people leaving makes me unhappy. :/
Did I ever mention I love how you write, and that I love how effortless your sentences are to read? If not, I'm doing it now. If I have, I'm doing it again.
Keep them coming! :)

nuclearbattery said...

^word,

Arslan Saeed said...

What an excellent piece of writing!

ifra said...

Wow, even though I'm pretty sure many people feel the same way with Lyceum ending, only you could've written about it so well. Love it!

komalwaqar said...

Lovely, evocative post - it reminded me of my own graduation. I don't think any academic institution will do what Lyceum did for me. Sigh, good times.

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